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I was hired at this company about 4 month ago as a junior software engineer.

Originally I came from a background in physics and also worked as such for years, but I wanted to switch careers. So I studied software engineering besides work and halfway through my studies I applied for several position, also for my current position. The company accepted and I started working there.

Right from the beginning I was completely overwhelmed, but I survived somehow. There was no training phase and I was almost immediately in production. Now I am working since 5 weeks on a big project, completely on my own with very unclear specifications. I have to design a new software component for their main product. I also have to coordinate with other teams, which are building plugins for that.

The problem is that I have zero idea how I am supposed to finish this task in finite time. It is just too big for me. And there is almost no help or support. I told my thoughts to my boss. He tried to calm me down and said that he knew anyway that I do not have much experience with it. But nothing changes! Unfortunately he also has no clear vision how this should look like. It should just work.

Currently I have to wait for the work of another team that I need to advance so I have nothing to do in the mean time. Which stresses me even more. On top of it, I have an all-in contract there. In the first month I had made additional 30 hours.

I am feeling so much pressure and I am worried that I will never complete this task in any time. Furthermore I really hate going there every morning, but my hope is that this situation will relax in the future with some time and experience. I am seriously thinking about leaving , but I am not sure if i am overreacting.

Am I freaking out too much or are my concerns justified?

  • It sounds like you have some down-time waiting for another team. Use it! study up on your system and the technology behind it. Ask your boss if you can interview and/or observe some users / customers. Go on a sales call or two if that makes sense. – O. Jones May 27 at 18:27
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Am I freaking out too much or are my concerns justified?

You are still new. You need to give it more time.

We all go through a similar phase in a new career. I know I did - several times with several careers.

Give it more time. Do your best. Keep asking your boss for guidance.

my hope is that this situation will relax in the future with some time and experience.

It almost certainly will.

  • True, keep asking. This is the sort of situation where a boss can prove to be really good or really bad. How much help do you get if you ask to talk specific problems through? Are there company-provided resources or online courses to get you up to speed? Do you have a team around you? Or are you just being left alone in a corner to google things? – Julia Hayward May 26 at 17:11
  • Thanks for your advice. I can ask people, but they don't have much time and unfortunately they also don't know how do this. Most of them also don't want the component to be implemented, that i have to do. So there is a lot of resistance. – SilentJack May 27 at 5:30
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In the region where I work it’s a common concept that a new hire will not be productive until six months into the job. And junior devs are not expected to deliver as fast as senior devs. You need to cut yourself some slack, especially since your boss seems ok with the situation.

As for the job in general. As a dev I constantly find myself with tasks that I’m not sure how to implement. The learning is life long. And just as I finally get comfortable, technology changes. It’s part of the job to navigate uncertainty and change.

Discuss with colleagues or friends in the industry. Read articles. Read and understand other code. Study not just coding but software architecture. Investigate multiple ways to solve a problem, and think about how they fit in the company where you work.

Structure your investigations at work, making formal space in the schedule. If you work agile, make proper tickets documenting what will be investigated and how much time will be spent.

Finally, you need work life balance. To be a good problem solver, you need rest. Don’t do massive overtime. Focus at work, relax when you are off. This is especially important to avoid burnout.

  • Thanks for your input. Work-Life balance is something I really have to work on. I know the feeling if something is doable, but a challenge. But sometime things are just too hard. It is really difficult to stay motivated for this. – SilentJack May 27 at 5:35

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